How to Change your Last Name Legally

By: Zoe Hawkins

An easy step by step guide to changing your last name legally.

I must admit, I had a hard time making the decision to change my last name. I had been a

‘Kidwell’ my whole life and I felt as if I had some of my identity in my name. I know I am not the

first person who has felt this way and most certainly won’t be the last, but I think the process to

change your last name can sway you against doing it altogether. Whether you are hyphenating,

making your maiden your middle name or taking on your partner’s name, it will take a little bit

of time and here’s what you need to do:

Decide your name

Like I mentioned before, there are plenty of options when changing your name
and discussing this with your partner is always a great idea. If you are having
trouble moving on with a completely different last name, hyphenating is a great
option. I had been in a sales position when I had got married and although my
name wasn’t legally hyphenated, I hyphenated my name in my emails and on
LinkedIn. In doing this, there was less confusion with clients and coworkers
while in the middle of negotiating business and deals. My biggest suggestion
when deciding what your name will change to—remember this is your decision,
your name, but having an open line of communication between you and your
partner. This sets the tone for other difficult decisions that can come around
within your marriage.

A copy of your marriage license

Three words- County Clerk’s Office. You can obtain that license one of two ways. You can go in person to request a copy, or you can request it by mail. With both of these options, there
is a fee for each copy. In person, the office will take a few forms of payment, but
you will need a money order if you request by mail.

Social Security Office

Once you have your marriage license you will need to bring that, a document
addressing your citizenship and identity and this document filed out. Two
documents that can be used to confirm your citizenship is your birth certificate
or a US passport. Your US driver’s license, US passport or a state-issued non-
driver identification card can be used to confirm your identity. If you do not
have one of these to prove identity click here for other options. As quoted on
the Social Security website, while “we may use one document for two purposes.
However, you must provide at least two separate documents.”

Waiting time!

The Social Security office will return your documents via mail. In the meantime,
you can relax until you receive those documents! If you can’t relax, plan a date
night! 😉

BMV Appointment

You can now make appointments at the BMV! I highly recommend doing so
once you have received your social security card. Once you have that

appointment you have some more document collecting to do. To receive a new
license you will need to prove identity, change in name, lawful status, social
security and state residency.
Documents commonly used:

1. Identity: Birth certificate, US passport

2. Change of Name: Marriage License

3. Lawful Status: Birth Certificate, Unexpired US or Foreign Passport ( with a via and 1-94 Form), Consular report of birth abroad

4. Social Security: Your NEW Social Security Card

5. State residency for this to be a Real ID (TWO PRINTED COPIES)

Computer- Generated Bill, Bank Statement, Printed Pay Stub, Medicaid/Medicare Benefit Statement

6. Now that your name is changed in the eyes of the government (YAY!) There is still other
places to change your name. Here are a few more places to change your name. Bank,
car registration/title, mortgage, passport, TSA PreCheck, Amazon and billing companies
(phone, utilities, credit cards, etc.) Some of these are more time sensitive than others,
and you can do the others at your leisure. I am still finding my maiden name, four years
later, on accounts that I have had for YEARS! I’ll leave you with this… Congratulations on
your nuptials! As The Avett Brothers sing, “Always remember, there was nothing worth
sharing, like the love that let us share our name.”